Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of Geoff Johns. Very few writers have brought me more delight and joy from reading. His output of comics lately has been sparse, so I've jumped on everything that he has published.
A few months ago it was announced that he and artist Gary Frank would be doing their own independent comic called Geiger. While I love their collaborations on DC Comic properties, I was incredibly excited to see these two working again. I made sure to have this on my pull list at my local comic book shop. The last thing that these two worked on was Doomsday Clock which was not only beautiful to look at, but gave me one of most impactful experiences reading a comic book.
But perhaps I have now set the bar to high for them.
Geiger is the story of a post-Apocalyptic hero. A nuclear war occurs in the near future. Our main hero built a bomb shelter with supplies for his family for years. But just as the bombs are about to drop, he and his family get attached by some racist neighbors who want the shelter for themselves. In order to save his family, our hero closes them in, leaving himself to bear the brunt of the nuclear holocaust. But instead of dying, he is an irradiated man of power. Years later, Las Vegas has turned into something out of the Fallout series with little fiefdoms built on the ruins of old structures. Our hero fights off those who would encroach on his territory so that he can make sure no one disturbs his family.
Gary Frank's art is as beautiful as ever. I wish Johns' writing matched what I saw.
To be fair, this is only the first issue. I was not terribly impressed with the first issue of Doomsday Clock either, and that story ended up knocking my socks off. But rather than hooking us with strong emotional ties, it almost feels like Johns is trying to get the origin out of the way so that he can show us all the cool world-building he has done. Things feel a little too forced and flat. For example, there is no nuance or subtlety to the racism of the attacking neighbors. I think back to 10 Cloverfield Lane where people were trying to get into the bunker and how in that short span you saw a whole range of emotions play out in their desperation. Johns is a better writer than this, so I am surprised.
Right now we are still in the "mystery box" phase where several people and places are referenced without any context given. Again, this would work better if there was a stronger emotional hook. Right now the main antagonist appears to be a child king. How is he a king and why are people listening to him? No idea. Will we find out so that it makes som kind of logical sense? I hope so.
If this was an other writer, I might tap out. Comics are expensive and this is not only an investment of my time, but also my money.
However, this is where a writer can cash in the good will they have built up over time. I trust Geoff Johns to tell a story that is worth telling.
He hasn't let me down.